As carbon emissions continue strong global growth, the most imminent climate challenge for society is a "long-term, large scale" transformation to a low carbon pathway consistent with keeping temperatures below 2°C. Chinese emissions represented 60% of the growth in global emissions in the last ten years, and now China emits as much as the EU on a per-capita basis. Given that China plans continued strong economic growth, it is clear that China's future development pathway will be a pivotal determinant in whether global temperature rise can be kept below 2°C. The objective of this project is to investigate feasible pathways of a Chinese transformation to a low carbon pathway, but importantly, to use alternative methods to ensure robust and verifiable results.
The project is separated into four work packages, each addressing specific challenges. First, the accuracy of Chinese emissions statistics is widely debated, and this may bias emission projections. We use independent methods and proxies to verify the trends in Chinese emissions and use this knowledge to reduce uncertainty in Chinese emission estimates. Second, China is an integral and growing part of the global value chain created by international trade. We analyse results from different datasets on how Chinese provinces and multinational firms are integrated into the global value chain, and the consequences this has on emissions. Third, just as the relationship between countries changes over time, so does the relationship between Chinese provinces. There is much debate on whether Chinese coastal provinces reduce emissions by outsourcing production to the central and western provinces keen for economic growth. We seek to settle that debate. And finally, incorporating information on drivers of Chinese national and provincial emissions, we develop independent projections of Chinese emissions leading to a peak and decline, to evaluate the potential Chinese mitigation challenge in the coming decade.
CICERO and LSCE have discussed initiating more formal collaboration for several years, both via the Global Carbon Project (Glen Peters, Philippe Ciais) and the IPCC (Jan Fuglestvedt and Philippe Ciais). Through his PhD work, Dr Thomas Gasser (LSCE) has worked on many research areas that directly link CICERO and LSCE. It is an opportune time for Dr Gasser to visit CICERO to more formally begin collaboration. Common research areas across CICERO and LSCE are broad, but this project will focus on four key areas: 1) Most emphasis will be on finalizing a paper on carbon-climate feedbacks in policy making tools; and other activities include 2) application of simple climate models in climate policy; 3) including atmospheric chemistry in simple climate models; 4) analysis of historical responsibility. At the end of the visit, we expect to have initiated several ongoing activities and identified potential areas for funding.